2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) Student of the Week


Name: Mathew Bub

Hometown: Newmarket, Ontario

Program: Entering 3rd year, Math and Physics Program, University of Toronto

What sparked your interest in the work that you’re currently doing through SURP? 

I was interested in Astronomy from a very early age, but I got my first real start in Astrophysics a year ago, when I did a research course with Dr. Jo Bovy – ever since then, I’ve been pretty involved in the department.

Tell us about your research.

At the moment I’m working at CITA, looking at the dynamical evolution of binary stars in the galactic centre. We’re particularly interested in the conditions that lead to mergers, especially with compact objects like neutron stars and black holes – which is relevant from a motivational standpoint, as they emit detectable gravitational waves.

Can you explain these mergers a little bit more?

It’s when the dynamics of the galactic centre cause the binary stars to approach so closely that – in the particular case of compact objects – they would eventually merge due to energy loss from gravitational wave emissions.

What does your typical day here look like? 

Early in the project, I spent most of my time writing up a code to simulate the dynamics of these binary stars. At this point, that code is all written, and has given us good results, so now I’m spending most of my time organizing things, making plots, and writing a paper.

What have you learned through the SURP program that you may not have otherwise known? 

I guess one of the main things from SURP that I learned more about is the entire academic process, from start to finish. Starting with a vaguely defined idea for a research project, refining that down, and then all the way to the final step of publishing a real piece of work. That whole academic journey is something that I have found to be a very unique experience.

Tell us about your future plans.

I’m certainly planning to do Grad school, and ideally get a PhD. After doing SURP, I’m definitely interested in continuing in academia – in Physics, of course. Longer term, I’m aiming for the standard academic route – a Postdoc, and then trying to get a faculty job, if possible.


2019 SURP Student of the Week Archive

Rylan Boothman

Clara Chung 

Baria Khan

Marley Leacock

Jason (Jaemyoung) Lee

Kelly Werker Smith